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    October 13, 2023

    The Power of Wi-Fi for Retail Properties

    Before Wi-Fi, the retail property industry relied upon a fairly limited range of channels to source customer data, including raffles, competitions, events, and a slow trickle of registration sign-ups captured from their websites. This is because the transactional relationship exists with the retailer (e.g. tenant), with limited channels connecting visitors and the property owners. This left minimal opportunities for property owners to nurture direct relationships with their visitors. 

    This was the case until property owners introduced Wi-Fi offerings, which typically required visitors to submit their email address to receive access to the services. Since then, Wi-Fi has acted as the primary customer acquisition channel for retail properties all over the world for the past decade.

    Despite improvements in internet bandwidth through carrier services like 5G, Wi-Fi usage and registrations have continued to grow, with Wi-Fi remaining the primary driver of customer data acquisition, with many property groups acquiring databases in the tens of millions.

    So, what makes Wi-Fi so valuable to both retail properties and the customers they serve? 

    1. Customers demand high quality Wi-Fi services when they visit

    Customers still value the quality of Wi-Fi experience at Retail Properties, with ease of sign-up, quality of service and speed of bandwidth being critical factors. Here’s why customers value Wi-Fi so much:

    • Internet connectivity is critical in the way shoppers engage in retail today, whether it be searching for products, evaluating alternative pricing options, and searching for offers and promotions.
    • Despite mobile carrier coverage continuing to improve, the quality of coverage can still be impacted when visiting retail spaces, whether visitors are travelling through large internal shopping precincts, and more so, while in-store at specific retailers.
    • Finally, in countries where mobile coverage is generally limited or customers are trying to limit the use of their internet plans, access to Wi-Fi in community spaces like shopping malls is relied upon in daily life. 
    1. Wi-Fi remains the leading customer data acquisition channel, with no competition in sight

    As mentioned earlier, many property groups have built massive, rich customer databases. Here’s why is Wi-Fi is so effective for retail properties in acquiring customer data:

    • No website would be complete without a sign-up form, and we see Wi-Fi portals as serving the same purpose, acting as a registration channel within physical environments. This is crucial for retail properties to drive data acquisition, as physical traffic will be significantly higher than digital traffic on their websites, so the conversion must happen at their properties.  
    • Wi-Fi not only captures customers' emails, but acts as a survey tool during sign-up, with the ability to capture additional information, like retail preferences, visitor satisfaction and demographic data. Customers can be continually profiled during each subsequent visit.
    • The cost of customers acquired through Wi-Fi is significantly cheaper than other collection methods. For retail properties with targets on data acquisition, delivering Wi-Fi services and ensuring you have the highest of onboarding experience is the most efficient and cost-effective way to hit these targets.
    • Wi-Fi customers who actively market their Wi-Fi service to customers will typically see significantly higher conversion and Wi-Fi utilisation rates, helping to grow their database faster.
    1. Wi-Fi is the only customer data and location intelligence technology, with powerful applications for retail properties

    So, this is where things get really exciting. Wi-Fi can also track the location of Wi-Fi registered visitors as they engage with your venues. This provides a range of powerful use cases where we connect the profile of a customer (captured through registration), and their real-time and historical location information. This capability enables a range of powerful use cases, including:

    • Delivering omnichannel marketing programs, through targeting customers during their shopping experience based on their precise location using proximity targeting, or their historical venue behaviors (e.g. visited during a particular sales or event). 
    • Using the location data to evaluate how your campaigns have directly influenced their behavior. 
    • Enriching your database based on how visitors engage with your properties historically to deeply personalize campaigns. For example, their affinity to particular precincts, when they typically visit, their engagement with particular services (e.g. car parking, click & collect).
    1. The power of owned data to enable and future proof your customer intelligence and digital transformation strategies

    We now know that Wi-Fi is so much more than just a way to access the internet while shopping. This little engine that could is also playing a significant role in the future of place experience, helping our retail property customers drive their strategic customer insights and digital transformation strategies. 

    Here’s why:

    • This data is wholly owned by our customers. Why is that important? Most of our clients pay significant amounts of money to run research programs, target surveys, understand their trade areas/catchment, and enrich their customer data. Wi-Fi supports all these use cases, and helps to  significantly reduce the reliance and investment on these 3rd party services. It’s your data, with no downstreams charges.
    • Wi-Fi can also be used to improve the quality of traffic counting by combining other technologies, like people counting and lidar, with Wi-Fi location data, providing increased accuracy and depth of reporting.
    • As a 1st party data asset, it can also support a range of tangential use cases. This includes empowering your analytics teams to run deeper analysis on your customers, supporting the running of retargeting programs through various ad platforms, and making possible initiatives that drive your digital experience programs. This is especially true of AI programs that rely upon the quality and depth of your data. 
    • Even if our clients don’t run programs like this today, it's certain they will in future evolve with the changing technology landscape. Whenever the day comes, Wi-Fi can ensure they have years of rich customer information to execute these programs vs starting at square one.

    Take advantage of Beonic’s AI Platform for Retail Properties

    Beonic AI platform for Retail Properties includes everything you need to deliver a world leading Wi-Fi experience, manage and optimize your customer data, and deliver highly personalized real-time customer communications.

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